With each passing year, there is a high chance a few veterans will hang their boots after long and successful NBA careers. Although some players are forced to retire early due to health concerns, others choose to after a successful career.
Age is the principal factor, as some players might fail to continually perform at the highest level to maintain their relevance in the league. Nat Hickey holds the record for the oldest player to feature in an NBA game. He retired at the age of 45. and featured in one game during the 1947-48 season for the Providence Steamrollers.
Physical wear is a clear indication of aging, as the body becomes more prone to injuries. Performing what ought to be regular tasks also becomes difficult as the body struggles to keep up with the rigors of the game.
For these players, it could be the final lap in what has been a long race. The 2021-22 NBA season could be their last campaign in the world's most recognized basketball league.
On that note, here are five active NBA players who could retire after the 2021-22 season.
#1 Udonis Haslem
Udonis Haslem is currently the oldest active player in the NBA, following Vince Carter's retirement in June 2020. The 41-year-old has played in the NBA for 18 years, and might suit up again for the Miami Heat.
Haslem's impact has been felt on and off the court, which is why the Miami Heat have continued to offer him a minimum veteran's contract year in year out.
If Haslem retires now, the only way fans would remember him would be for his brawl with Dwight Howard in May 2021, which led to him being ejected. The veteran will have one more season to redeem himself and exit the NBA on a high note.
#2 Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson just turned 36 a few weeks ago, making him one of the top ten oldest active NBA players. Although he is a restricted free agent after spending the 2020-21 season with the New York Knicks, the big man is still interested in having one last hoorah before a potential retirement at the end of the 2021-22 season.
As things stand, it is unclear where Gibson will spend his 2021-22 season. However, if he successfully inks a deal with any franchise, it could be his last run in the NBA.
#3 Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala has played the game at the highest level, earning himself three championship rings and an NBA Finals MVP award in 2015. He helped the Golden State Warriors defeat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to clinch the championship.
The 37-year-old Iguodala could choose to retire after playing out the last year on his Miami Heat contract. He has been inspiring from the bench and remains one of the players who has successfully troubled LeBron James in the playoffs. However, he might announce his retirement upon the conclusion of the 2021-22 NBA season.
Iguodala is still an elite defender, and can guard any position because of his versatility. However, his production in offense has been on a consistent decline since his 2012-13 season. He averaged 4.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season.
#4 Paul Millsap
Paul Millsap has had a successful run as an NBA player, making four All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. However, he is likely to retire after the 2021-22 season.
Millsap is currently an unrestricted free agent, which means any team can pursue him to bolster their second unit. Although he is not as athletic as he once was in the NBA, he does a decent job scoring and grabbing rebounds. He boasts career averages of 13.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
#5 Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol is currently playing for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Although he will be returning to the LA Lakers for the 2021-22 season, this might be his last stint with the national team.
Gasol was a member of the Toronto Raptors that won the 2019 NBA championship. He signed with the Lakers in the 2020 off-season, but an injury-riddled season derailed the team's title hopes.
At the end of the 2021-22 NBA season, Gasol's contract with the Lakers will expire. That might likely be the end of his playing career as well.
The Lakers' acquisition of Russell Westbrook puts them as favorites to win the 2022 NBA championship. If it plays out like that, it would be the perfect end to Gasol's career.
Although the 36-year-old big man is still technically gifted, his ability to defend the pick-and-roll, protect the rim and grab boards are areas that he struggles with. He has had a great run in his 13-year career, but his legs might not take him further than the 2021-22 season.
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